A formal investigation has been launched into NatWest's MoneySense TV campaign which promotes its free advice service at branches.
The Advertising Standards Authority probe follows the results of a Which? investigation that found the bank's service was sometimes failing on its promise of delivering impartial advice.
NatWest insists it has done nothing wrong.
We asked for your comments, a selection of which are below. This debate is now closed.
MOST RECENT COMMENTS
I was one of the 1,000 Moneysense advisers until my dismissal from the bank in February this year. What you need to understand is that advisers had one day's training. The role was rushed into the branches because of government money. CCCS if they had done it themselves could not have got the course up and running until 2009 (they were asked in October 2008). Most Moneysense advisers are sellers or customer advisers to use the term. Branch managers were against it because it was said to be a non sales role. It has evolved into that gentle selling role that it is today. Remember the interview is in a room with posters telling you of the latest deals of the bank. They are telling you that you should shop around for better deals in a financial institution. Moneysense in theory is fantastic but the practice is a completely different ball game. It can never be impartial where the advisor is salaried by the bank and wears the bank's uniform.
Tim Keirman, Cambridge
At one bank you have to make a appointment to see the customer adviser before you can open a Isa. When you challenge them they say it is because of money laundering laws. What's the bet they will try to sell you something else once they have lured you into their interview room? What is wrong with filling out the form, the teller checks your ID and you pass over the money? I opened an ISA online with a different bank without an problems.
I find it difficult to believe that a bank is going to give truly impartial advice that may involve sending a customer to a competitor. Where's the business sense in that from NatWest's perspective?
Which? completely misses the point. As normal there is an axe to grind about the big banks. What sort of system does Which want? What NatWest is doing is responding to the massive changes in the financial service advice marketplace. NatWest has tried to re-establish a personal relationship with their customers - many of whom may want general money advice on debt, which is a good thing. All the focus seems to be on investment advice (which in reality only around 20% of the population may seek). Can we not get some real facts about the advice market and not unscientific small sample surveys?
I left my bank when it appointed me a "financial advisor", which I didn't ask for, who was clearly just a sales person, and then asked me to pay a monthly fee for his services! To cap it all, he then called to "advise" me I should invest my money rather than have such a large amount in my current account. When I pointed out I didn't have much money in my current account, it turned out to be my overdraft limit he was looking at. He never called me again.
It amazes me how many people will happily go to see a solicitor for legal advice, yet assume that they know everything regarding financial products available. I cannot imagine a truly independent adviser at a bank - a natural conflict of interest. However, there is a whole industry of independent financial advisers with a much higher understanding than the average price comparison site!
Simon Aspinall, Barnstaple
I find it fairly amusing that the public still try to blame the banks. How can you really think that advice from NatWest would be impartial? Are they honestly going to refer you to Barclays for an Isa? Answer is no and it's common sense, not the customer being misled! Customers in today's financial market are over-protected. Give the banks a break, customers should have their own thoughts and half a brain cell to make up their own mind and shop around!
James Dunn, Bristol
Who would want financial advice from the banks, who can't even manage their own finances? We can manage our finances ourselves and in-fact we can advise the bank what to do!
Kay Ess, Watford
As if anyone could be gullible enough to believe that a business such as a bank is prepared to give independent advice. Come on now!
Well there's a surprise. Free impartial advice turns out to be a sales pitch? Looks like business as usual at the high street banks.
Steven Hotham CFP, Sittingbourne
Last year my bank similarly gave me advice that was advertised as free and independent but turned out to be selling its own products. I requested advice on setting up a new portfolio of £120,000 shares (Unit Trust, OICS etc). Its advice included 60% of the fund in shares in its own funds which upon my own research turned out to be in the bottom half or lowest quartile of performance. When asked why they were recommended, the financial adviser said they think they will perform better in the future - yes right, I'm hoping for a good Christmas too!I went elsewhere for advice.
Peter Hills, Essex
For many years now I have had "free" financial advice from a adviser provided by a bank (I pay no fees and the adviser gets no direct commission). I have had investments made through the bank in many and varied companies with varying results. Within the last year they have advised me to move my money out of the share markets and invest it in safer options. I feel that over the years I have been given good advice which has been impartial. I think your item may have labelled all such advice as untrustworthy when in fact there is more ethical advice available.
Ann Robinson, Durham
I took advice from a bank's "independent" adviser. It wasn't independent. All products recommended were from that bank or its derivatives. I lost some capital on "safe" investments and have subsequently been moving my money away from the bank using my own judgement, which is generally better than financial advisers. I will never invest with that bank again.
Fraser Borwick, London
Is advice from a person in a bank less trustworthy than advice from a price comparison website? They're both businesses operating to make a profit. I find people in a bank easier to judge - they're human. I don't know how an algorithm on a price comparison website works and I don't think anybody does and we know from the money madness of the last 10 years that's not a good thing. But between the two, I'd go for the person in the bank.
Selina Howells, Reading
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